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Getting there

Moscow is literally the roads junction so you wont miss the capital either going by land, or through the air. I.e. all the interstates, all railroads and most air routes tend to NOT avoid Moscow. There are 3 airports in the suburbs, some 7 train stations not far from the city centre, and a dozen of arterial motorways coming from Europe, northern and southern parts of Russia, and from the East that lead to the capital. Be welcome))

Money

Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard, and often AmEx and Diners Club as well) are accepted in many stores, but definetely not in all of them. The service is advertised directly withing the entrance area in 99 out of 100 so watch out. ATMs are extremely frequent but will charge you some $5-$10 for a foreign card processing. Note: You can only pay for public transport in cash.

Changing dollars and euros into roubles is easy, and reverse conversion is usially no problem, but keep in mind that the rates become more costly after app 9pm. Try to change money in banks, they only work at daytime and give the best rate.

Apart from euros and dollars, nothing is generally accepted for convertion anywhere. Several small yellow currency exchange points located in the central part down in the Metro do exchange everything into everything as an exeption to that rule, but their rates are ruinous.

Getting around

Public transport -- Metro

Moscow has any means of public transportation, ranging from trams to taxies (save for small aviation cos air vehicles are not generally allowed to enter the city skyline), but for you as a foreigner it is highly recommended to use the Metro. It is coherent (compared to interconnected networks of bus, trolley bus and trams lines) and kind of translated into English -- at least, there are transliterated names of its stations on every scheme inside the metro.

Here is the up-to-date metro map (no English names on this one thou):http://metro.yandex.ru/moscow/ Just click the beginning and then the end station to see the most convenient way around and time spent en-route. Note that you can download a mini-map to your cell phone, provided it is MIDP2 enabled (if it has a color screen, it most probably is). Follow this link from your cell phone browser: http://m.ya.ru/ymetro

One metro ride costs app $1. Unless you plan to leave immidiately, its cheaper and more convenient to purchase a ticket for at least 10 rides. Note that 1st day of every month there happen to be immense crowds assalting metro ticket-offices, and there is no automated way to purchase a ride, so try to have extra rides left every last day of the month.

Metro is pretty safe for back-riding. Just have a look at other people doing it and follow when you feel you are ready. No-one will bother you once you are inside. Please, refrain from back-riding if you see cops guarding the gates line, just to avoid possible misunderstading, passport checks etc, since Moscow cops never speak foreign languages, and are generally not inclined towards constructive dialog.

City-hitching

City-hitching is quite possible in Moscow, as long as you start thumbing on a spot you'd rather choose for hitch-hiking than for a payed ride (i.e. not on a bus stop)); and clearly state you are not gonna pay for a ride. Say 'Bez Deneg' (no money) and smile, that works! Tips:

  • do not do it in the very center. You will most probably have taxies (and private drivers that are after extra cash) crowded around you in seconds, even before you start thumbing;
  • at night, getting away from the center is generally easier than getting into it (empty taxies keep going back to the city middle and will probably bother you along their way);
  • its ok to get a lift by some fith car. It often takes 10-15 minutes to wait for the right one.

Suburban trains

Local trains are not that cheap and not as numerous as in, say, Poland, but there are many of destinations taking start in one of the Moscow train stations and running in all directions. You can study the railroad map visually either using Google Maps or Yandex Maps. To get quite an accurate timetable and destinations search, go to http://rasp.yandex.ru/ and click электричка right below two search fields. Pity, you have to know some russian or at least type in cyrillic to use this; but there are currently no online services available in other languges.

While riding local trains, be prepared to face anything from gypsies and junk traders to handicapped people singing war songs and police raids (those are rare and kind of peaceful but anyways always have your papers ready). Moscow local trains are really some thriving kind of experience.

Note also that local trains are often the most convenient way to go between remote parts of the city and its center (even better than metro), and also the fastest way to get yourself to a hitchhiking spot just outside Moscow.

What to do

People

Many are friendly, yet some might literally fear foreigners since even in Moscow the majority of population speaks no English. If you are lost or anything, try speaking to younger people, some 20-35 age span probably works best. Note: most shop assistants, even those in fashioun outlets, speak only Russian. If you feel like asking salespeople for help, try small shops that sell cellphones -- their stuff is generally more fluent in foreign languages =)

There are several places in Moscow (ask for Stary Arbat and Bolotnaya Ploshad) that accumulate different folks, from hippies to street performets, daily or several days of the week. Their crowds are international in mind; one is likely to find great open-minded company and even a place to stay for the night talking to folks there.

Eat and Drink

Eating out is generally expencive in Moscow. Try Mu-Mu for inexpencive home-made-style food, or Elki-Palki or Grabli for eat-as-much-as-you-cans. Going to a restaurant, a pub or a night club might be surprisingly devastating to your assets. Every Tuesday in Kukli Pistolety (google it out) pub one can find an international crowd of people, mostly from couchsurfing. Its extremely smoky inside, so mind it.

Accomodation

In case you can't find any hospitality withing BeWelcome and other networks, and esp for last emergency couches, try using Vpiska community (you will need to sign up for livejournal.com or use any openID account to post there. Do not be driven away by Russian being its main language -- English is also welcomed there. Usially replies are rapidly fast; to get them in turbo mode it might be useful to leave your cell number in the message.

If you fail even there, there is a dozen hostels scattered around the city center. The cheapest ones are probably some $15 for the bed in the dorm. Google Moscow hostels to get them all in a row ;)

Learn more

A little overloaded, but quite usable, guide to Moscow on WikiTravel